Full Record

Ref Type: Journal Article

Authors: Westbrook,Lynn,

Title: Chat reference communication patterns and implications: Applying politeness theory

Publication Full: Journal of Documentation

Year: 2007 Volume: 63 Issue: 5

Start Page: 638 Other Pages: 658

Descriptors: NULL


Purpose – The purpose of this study is to examine the use of formality indicators in chat reference interchanges within the context of politeness theory, with its corollaries of face-threat and social relationship development.
Design/methodology/approach – This discourse analysis identifies the syntactic and content indicators and patterns of formality levels in a purposive sample of 402 chat transcripts (covering 6,572 minutes) from one academic year at a large, US, public university.
Findings – Syntactic formality markers include regular use of contractions, slang, sentence fragments, and non-standard punctuation as well as limited use of acronyms and abbreviations with rare use of emoticons. Content-based markers included apologies, self-disclosure, and expressions of extreme need. Use patterns are related to the level of responsibility assumed by the librarian as well as the interview stages.
Research limitations/implications – A limited data source and potential coder bias are the two limitations of this study. The research implications point to the need for chat reference librarians to assume greater control of formality nuances in order to encourage a more effective search for the user.
Practical implications – The fundamentals of politeness theory, particularly in terms of formality indicators, should be incorporated into staff training and behavioral standards for reference librarians. While future research is needed to determine the most effective means of employing this theoretical construct, this study implies that a self-reflective, culturally sensitive use of the nuances of formality can enhance the user's experience.
Originality/value – This study is the first to systematically examine formality indicators in the context of politeness theory. The use of two coders, a full academic year's worth of data, and a substantial sample provide great depth.



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Retrieved Date:January 1, 1970

Editors: NULL

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Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Place Of Publication: NULL

Issn Isbn: NULL